Tennis is more than a game, it’s a way for children to develop discipline



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Tennis is more than a game, it’s a way for children to develop discipline

Federico Coppini Foundation (FCF) was founded in 2019 to share my passion for tennis with disadvantaged children in Stellenbosch. The project grew quickly to include primary schools in Kayamandi, Jamestown and Ida’s Valley, as well as the children’s home in Cloetesville. Initially tennis orientation and coaching were presented at schools, but the lack of facilities and space were prohibitive.

During this period FCF also took on the management of the Strand Tennis Programme for children. This programme has since grown in numbers, quality of coaching and overall management.

FCF signed a lease with Stellenbosch Municipality in 2021, to renovate and manage the Ida’s Valley tennis facility. The venue was upgraded by FCF at a cost R900 000 and is now a home for children’s tennis in Stellenbosch. We currently present coaching, tournaments, and holiday programmes for over 350 children at the facility.

The completion of this renovation and upgrading project, together with the successful establishment of our School Tennis programme led to further development opportunities. In 2022 FCF signed a lease agreement with Stellenbosch Municipality to upgrade and manage the Van Der Stel Tennis facility (VDS). This project is nearing completion and R2.3 million is currently being invested in the first phase of the upgrade. The vision is to turn this venue into a world class tournament facility in Stellenbosch.

The foundation has two clear objectives, firstly to restore tennis as a widely played sport amongst children, and secondly, to produce the tennis stars of the future. Through our work with children, in pursuit of both these objectives, we have come to the realisation that tennis alone is not enough to truly impact young lives. We have since shifted our focus to include both on and off the court interventions. We are introducing two new programmes in 2023, adjacent to out existing programmes. The new projects are aimed at offering holistic life development support together with the game of tennis. This will be done to mitigate the social challenges that prevent talented young players from accelerating at the sport.

This proposal outlines our plans and the resources needed to make it a reality.

Tennis World Foundation was recently renamed to Federico Coppini Foundation. This was done to include wider projects into the foundations.

Thank you for your consideration

Federico Coppini (Founder of Federico Coppini Foundation)

BACKGROUND

Introduction

Tennis around the world remains an exclusive sport and South Africa continues to struggle to have a balanced footprint and sustainable strategy for young tennis players to participate and excel at the sport. Federico Coppini Foundation was established in 2019 to offer a comprehensive tennis development strategy that combines professional coaching with the support that young players need to win.

About Us

FCF is focused on raising champions, both on and off the court. We present a comprehensive tennis development program to children at our two dedicated tennis facilities. Africa is battling to produce competitive players and we aim to change that.

The foundation makes tennis broadly accessible to schools in underserved communities, giving every child a fair chance to participate and excel at the game. When talent is recognised, children are escalated to individual coaching programs, and we offer all the support young players need to be champions.

The children in our program are often exposed to social challenges such as substance abuse, financial lack and social neglect. The sport of tennis offers children a remarkable opportunity to build resilience and to enjoy the uplifting social environment around the game. Through everything that we do, we focus on the development of leadership and discipline in our young players

FCF is a non-profit organization established for the promotion and development of youth tennis in Stellenbosch and South Africa. We are in a formal partnership with Tennis South Africa (TSA), Western Cape Tennis Federation and Winelands Tennis.

FCF established the Ida’s Valley Tennis Centre in 2021, and the Van Der Stel Tennis Center in 2022, in partnership with Stellenbosch Municipality.

Our programmes are well established and continues year on year. We now aim to introduce additional programmes and this proposal outlines our 2023 vision.

History

FCF has grown over the years, to achieve more results and to assist more children. Through our experience we have come to the realization that tennis coaching alone will not produce winners. We have therefore widened our approach to include varying support to aid the development journey of our players. The social problems children face often keep them off the court and prevents them to focus and achieve. This includes specifically family related problems such as poverty, substance abuse, and gender stereotypes. With these realities in mind, we conducted a strategic review, which lead to a shift from tennis alone, to a more socially focused programme. Our strategic goals have grown to include education and life development, and particularly the development of girls, through tennis as a catalyst.

Mission

Our mission is to enable the development of tennis amongst South African youth and to employ tennis as a catalyst to reach, support and progress children towards a positive future.

Vision

Our vision is to produce champions on and off the tennis court.

OUR PROJECTS

Our future vision includes four projects centred around both life and tennis development for children. Our rationale in the development of our projects are three-fold:

- The game of tennis as a vehicle for children to develop on a personal level. It teaches discipline, social behaviour, motivation, and personal drive. Even if children only play socially, they are still better off for having the experience and the benefits it presents. The sport also opens a range of opportunities such as school and university scholarships, with the possibility of a career in tennis.
- Talent is stunted by socio-economic circumstances and cultural frameworks. Many talented young tennis players don’t progress or leave the game altogether because of the personal challenges they face at home. Cultural frameworks particularly effect young female players as the pursuit of sport is not common amongst girls in many communities. To truly unlock tennis potential, programmes should offer integrated and comprehensive player support, to counteract the challenges that prevent especially girls, from exceling at the game.
- Producing tennis champions requires a professional approach and focussed programme. A well-defined and multi-partner approach is needed to realise the vision of producing world champions. Promising players should enter a comprehensive multi-year programme with the objective to compete professionally.

Herewith an overview on our projects:

1- Residential High Performance Tennis Programmes for Girls

The objective of this programme is to produce tennis champions. Our aim is to offer talented young female tennis players the best possible opportunities to excel at the game and to compete professionally. Social circumstances and gender roles have been identified as a leading cause for gifted young female players to stagnate or quit the game altogether. Our aim is to offer carefully selected and gifted players full accommodation, schooling and social support, in conjunction with a regimented tennis coaching programme. The outcome of this programme is to offer participants the opportunity to play tennis professionally.

This programme is open to qualifying tournament level female tennis players across South Africa and players will go into residence in Stellenbosch with the purpose to focus on tennis.

The programme will initiate in 2023 with 4 female tennis players 13-14 years of age and will span over six years up to 2028. Additional players will be selected annually, with the objective to grow the programme to include 12 players in total. The nature of the programme is such that tennis talent and potential is the main criteria for selection, and suitable candidates will be sought and initiated over the period.

Multi-year funding and a collaborative development partnership is sought to implement this project successfully.

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2. School Coaching Programme

This programme offers free tennis coaching for all interested Stellenbosch community-based schools. Tennis coaching is offered five days a week in school terms. Coaching is presented by dedicated children’s tennis coaches at our Ida’s Valley tennis facility, which offers a welcoming and child friendly space for learners. The purpose of the programme is the broad-based development of school tennis and the re-establishment of tennis as a widely played school sport in Stellenbosch.

This programme supports and underpins our other programmes; talent is identified and developed on school level and qualifying players are eligible to play tournaments or stand a chance to enter one of our more advanced programmes. The ongoing annual nature of this programme is such that it starts and provides a tennis pathway for players that wish to excel at the sport. The programme offers 20 group coaching sessions per month, totalling 180 sessions a year. We also present large group holiday programmes in the Christmas and Easter school holidays.

Participating schools are responsible for the transport of children and they can book their space at the start of each year. Individual children may also join the programme out of school context but must be of school going age. Any child that arrives at the centre can play tennis free of charge.

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3. Tennis for Change Programme

This programme is focused on providing opportunities and support to girls through tennis participation. A total of 90 girls between the ages of 9-10 years old will be selected and enter a multi-year tennis focussed life development programme. Players are selected based on academic merit, school dedication and tennis abilities.

The aim of the programme is to develop competitive players that are eligible for international tertiary tennis scholarships. A focussed tennis coaching programme is combined with educational and social support, designed to help girls to reach their full tennis and academic potential.

The programme includes comprehensive tennis coaching, payment of school fees, educational support, transport, and tournament support. The aim of this programme is to work closely with parents and teachers, to bring about both educational and personal achievement. Our aim is to prepare the participants for tertiary study and to assist them to enter competitive tennis.

The programme is ongoing, and the 2023 intake will progress with the programme in 2024 and onwards. A total of 90 female tennis players will participate in this programme annually.

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4. Tournaments

Tournaments are hosted at our Van der Stel Tennis facility (VDS) which we have recently renovated and refurbished.  Both IFT and UTR tournaments will be presented, and our aim is to create a junior tournament offering as is the custom in Europe. This entails a set tournament schedule offering young players the opportunity to achieve ranking and move into formal tennis competition and international recognition. Our tournaments will offer prize money to winners and qualifying players from across the region is able to participate.

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Co-Funding

FCF is immensely appreciative of the funding and support received to date. However, Federico Coppini has largely funded FCF in his personal capacity up to this point and with the Foundations growing ambitions we seek additional funding and partnerships to scale.  

Our aim is to continue to seek co-funding and to diversify our partnership base.

If you want to help, I will appreciate 100% and here the link to donate

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The Projects has grown aggressively over the past 3 years, and we aim to keep the momentum and to strive for a new level of excellence and service provision for our young beneficiaries. We believe that young lives can be redirected and that our programmes offer profound personal and educational benefits. We are seeking donors and partners that share our vision and believe that we can produce champions, on and off the court.